A glimpse into our process, styling tips & tricks, and new projects. Welcome to Toledo Geller!

Toledo Geller featured in the New Crystorama Catalog:

We all have our favorites, right? One of our all time favorite light fixtures is the Broche from Crystorama. We've used it as a flush mount, a semi flush mount, a hanging pendant and a chandelier...and in both the white finish and the antique gold. Virginia and Jessica even have a version of this light in their own homes. Clearly, we love it. So, when Crystorama asked us to be a part of their new 2020 catalog and be featured beside this fixture we were thrilled. Why do we love it so, you ask? It's so versatile - depending on the application it can skew modern or traditional, and of course somewhere in between (that buzz word: transitional). Take a look at the new catalog for some timeless light fixtures at a great price, and be sure to enter Toledo Geller in the search bar to see our design take on this fabulous fixture! And, it doesn't hurt that we're featured alongside some of our design heroes and colleagues: Carson Kressley, Brian Patrick Flynn, Libby Langdon and Justin Shaulis to new a few!

Press: Wall Street Journal Off Duty presents Happy-Medium Decor:

Ok, this bit of press made us jump out of our seats. Not only were we interviewed for the cover story of the Wall Street Journal's Off Duty section, but it was a story that we just love - the rise of a new design style, called 'The Happy-Medium." All too often people ask us what our design philosophy is, and we really truly hate to label ourselves. There's traditional, modern and that all-too popular word 'transitional' (but what does that really mean, anyway?), and minimalism and maximalism. We've toyed around with the words "modern-ish" and "soft modern" but neither of those feel appropriate to our work either. Well, finally, a new design buzz word called "Happy-Medium Decor" and to be quite honest, we love it. It's a perfect description of our look: where patterns and color are introduced in measured but not chaotic ways. Traditional curves and materials are tempered by current forms and textures. It's that sweet spot that Goldilocks lived in and it's just right.

And, again, we were quoted alongside design greats like Sister Parish and Gideon Mendelson and talented designer friends Young Huh and Madcap Cottage. But the icing on the cake? The larger than life image was of our own Virginia Toledo's foyer which portrays the look to a T. #swoon

Check out the article and let us know what you think of the new design "it" word.

PRESS: Business of Home:

How involved should children be in the design of their own spaces? We LOVED being asked this design question from Business Of Home's editors! We like to think that our process allows us to have found the sweet spot: we keep the kids in the know and truly listen to their likes, dislikes and opinions, but we also communicate with mom and dad to make sure our selections meet their approval, too. This gives our children, tweens and teens enough control to allow them to feel like their bedroom is a true representation of themselves, but really keeps the reigns in the parent's hands so that there is room to grow, especially given the financial investment and kids' potentially changing tastes. When we first started our interior design firm, it seemed like everyone was calling us to decorate their children's bedrooms, even before designing the rest of the home, so we really got our design feet wet with kid's room design and became known for our knack at it. Click here for some of our kids' bedrooms, and read the rest of the article here.

Sotheby's Home Designer Profile:

If you want to hear about our favorite personal objects in our own homes, our biggest design secret and what we think is the most common design mistake, look no further. Sotheby's Home interviewed us and asked us these hot topic questions, plus a few more, and they also asked us to scour their site for our favorite finds that are currently available.

If you aren't familiar with Sotheby's Home, the art auction house now works with home owners, designers, and designer showrooms to sell previously loved furnishings and showroom samples at a steep discount. They also have frequent sales, and who doesn't love a steal?! It's one of our favorite tricks for design projects that have a tight deadline and we don't have the luxury of time to wait for long lead times. But shhh. You didn't hear it from us.

PRESS: HOUSE BEAUTIFUL:

This Suburban New Jersey Home Feels Like an Alpine Chalet

Teaneck, New Jersey, a suburban town just outside New York City, is not exactly the place you'd expect to find an alpine-style chalet. But in one lucky family's home, light wood ceilings and wool upholstery conjures images of bright mountainscapes, despite the locale. That's thanks to Next Wave design firm Toledo Geller, who transformed a dreary, downtrodden house into a welcoming family abode that feels at once cozy and bright.

When the design duo—comprised of Virginia Toledo and Jessica Geller—first entered the home, it was far from either of those adjectives. "It was very brown, muddy, 80s renovation," Virginia recalls. "You know, just shiny floor tile, wall to wall carpeting in rooms that shouldn't have it..." That is to say, ripe for renovation.

So, she and Jessica began to think about how to better use the home's spaces, especially the public ones: a sun room, living room, and central dining room.

They began with the living room, whose placement gave it very little natural light. "So they have the sunroom, which was where they thought they would spend most of their time, and then they had another room on the first floor that they were going to be using as their TV watching room," says Jessica. "So we thought, how are we going to get them into this room? We have to make it feel special, we have to make it feel different."

The two came up with the idea of covering the walls in a natural shiplap, to serve as a textural element that made the room feel special while also connecting it to the other parts...

TO HEAR MORE ABOUT THIS PROJECT, FOLLOW THIS LINK

Dear Designer:

 

I have a first-world problem – too many rooms! I realize that this sounds like a ridiculous issue, but my home literally has a family room, a formal living room, a sitting room and a library, and three of the four just sit there unused because my family only congregates in front of the television. Do you have any ideas of how to get us out of this one room and into the others?

 

Sincerely,

Fenced In

 

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Dear Fenced In,

 

One of the first things we do when working on a home with multiple living spaces is to define the mood or activity so that each room has a purpose. Our goal is to create an ambiance that will draw you into a room. That means giving each room something special and different from the other rooms that might feel more inviting on any given day (i.e., is it cold and gloomy and that’s got you feeling gloomy, too, or is it a fling-open-the-windows-and-bask-in-the-warm-breeze kind of day? A catnap in the sunlight or a game of Clue?) Activities are also one of the biggest reasons that people will be drawn into a room. You are already using your Family Room for TV-watching so consider what other activities you’d like to engage with your family in – fireside stories, a cozy spot for reading or working on a laptop, puzzles and board games, etc.

 

The photo seen here is from a home in which each room has a distinctly different feel to it. We embraced natural light in the sunroom and kept everything as bright, airy and cheerful as possible. The formal living room does not have as much natural light, so here we developed a lodge-like feel, and clad the walls in a textured wood shiplap, used darker tones, and highlighted the fireplace by way of the seating arrangement. The den is the only room in this home with a TV and we emphasized the coziness of the room with a plaid wallpaper on the ceiling and selected a super duper deep sofa – one that allows you to fully recline and the whole family can snuggle together, or one or two people can even doze off on it.

 

Try to study the architecture of each room in your home independently and see what feelings it conjures up with you. Then, embrace the mood and decorate with that same train of thought.

 

Your decorating gurus,

Jessica and Virginia

Mantoloking, NJ Project Reveal:

 

We’re excited to kick off our summer of project reveals with this beautiful Mantoloking, NJ beach house. Located in Ocean County, this million-dollar listing is right on the beach with several ocean views throughout the house. This project came about after we had reached out to a Facebook Hoboken Moms group because we were looking to design a summer home. Our reason for wanting to work on a project like this is because there’s a different feel to designing a summer home. These houses often act as the client’s “second home” since they will only spend a portion of their year living there or they will simply go there for a weekend trip. Since it is not used every day of the year, there is less pressure in designing it. Unexpectedly, we received a call from one of the moms’ husband who happened to work for a development company. Rather than having us work on a personal property, he asked us to help him with a different project and the rest was history. We completed this project about a year ago, but felt it was time to share it with the world. If you follow us on Instagram, you might have noticed that our recent posts were all leading up to the reveal of this project. We chose to highlight certain areas of the home before revealing the end result. This New Jersey beach house features a reverse living home plan. This is a design where the main living areas where you spend the most time are located on the upper floors which allows you to take full advantage of your beautiful views. This is exemplified in one of the master bathrooms that looks out directly to the ocean. You can also notice in the living area that we included some slip-covered furniture. This was an important touch because your furniture is bound to be covered in sand quite frequently during the summer, so this makes the cleaning process so much easier. Back on Instagram, we also featured local businesses on our story leading up to the reveal. Some of the companies included were Rook Coffee, Anthropologie, and Pete Smith’s Surf Shop. You can learn more about this project on our website and make sure to stay tuned for our next project reveal!

Dear Designer:

 

I recently bought a new house but I think I’m having buyer’s remorse after having lived here for a few months: I’m realizing that my home is short on storage space We desperately need an area for our family to “operate” but I can’t seem to figure out a good layout with the bookcases and desks I’ve seen on the market. Do you have any recommendations? 

 

Signed, 

Short on Storage 

 

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Dear Short on Storage, 

  

This is a suburban mom’s nightmare, but sounds like built-in cabinetry is the just what the doctor ordered! We are lovers of millwork for oh so many reasons but the number one is reason is that custom millwork is designed to fit your specific needs and your specific space, so it can turn a wide hallway or a spare nook into a glorified family hub.  

 

If you don’t have a dedicated room for “office” a desk and storage can be incorporated within a family room or living room. The key to incorporating it into a public or dual-purpose space is being able to hide the clutter when you don’t want to see it anymore.  We’ve hidden computers and paper messes behind pocket doors, camouflaged printers and scanners within touch latch paneling, inserted pin boards and chalkboards on the interior of cabinet doors – all of this to conceal the daily grind, but keep it within arms reach 

 

Besides aiding with storage, the finish of the cabinetry can be an expression of you and your home’s style – are you a shiny lacquer kind of person, or down-to-earth and woodsy? Does your home lack character and architectural interest? Millwork can add that depth and dimension to the space. Do you live in an old home that could use a splash of modernization? Tie it all together with millwork.  

 

In this “study” pictured here, our client had a 75 square foot nook which we crafted into a family hub - we equipped the space with three desks – one for “house-keeping,” a station for working from home, and an easel for their budding artist tween’s homework and play. The custom pyramid paneled doors with hand painted strie and the sophisticated, fresh and fun palette that swaths the room from floor to ceiling represents this homeowner and her vibe to a T – true personalization.  

 

Your decorating gurus 

Jessica and Virginia  

Dear Designer:

 

Our home is freshly painted and the walls are a simple white. I love the clean look of white walls but it’s feeling a little bit sparse and utilitarian. Do you have any tricks up your sleeve to warm up white walls? 

 

Sincerely,  

White Washed  

 

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Hi White Washed! 

 

We often joke that we are not your girls to go to for painted walls. We use wallcoverings almost exclusively – even if it’s a simple textured white and not a pattern – because a coat of paint is often just too flat 

 

That being said, there are always exceptions to every rule, and we’ve broken our own rules quite a few times!  

 

One of our favorite techniques to liven up a painted room is to paint the trim in a contrasting color. In the images seen here we went with a true color (Benjamin Moore’s Van Cortland Blue, to be exact). Can you picture this room with a white or neutral painted trim molding? All of the depth and dimension here is coming by way of the blue crown and casing, and it’s a relatively inexpensive fix so you get a lot of bang for your buck (especially in the older charming homes in Essex Fells!) 

 

We should also mention that a contrasting neutral color on the trim works wonders too – it doesn’t have to be a bold blue or a saturated color for this trick to work. Some of our go-tos are Farrow and Ball’s Parma Gray and Benjamin Moore’s Feathered Down.  

 

And, the more obvious tip for warming up white walls is correctly sized and placed art because a room is completely naked until you have the right art hanging on the walls!  

 

Your decorating gurus ,
Jessica and Virginia   

Interior Design panel discussion about Online Editorials:

We are honored to be asked to once again participate in a panel discussion about interior design, and this time, in our own backyard in Bergen County. The topic will cover how interior designers and decorators are focusing on getting press in today's digital era. We'll share some of our successes of what's worked and what hasn't - from our grassroots approach to hiring publicists + agents (you might be surprised at which avenue has been more successful for us) and what you should expect to achieve from press (are you trying to reach a certain demographic such as empty nesters or young families?) or do you want the notoriety among peers in the design industry? We'll be joined by Lisa McMahon, Andrew Joseph, and Nicole Haddad and the event is part of the ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME Design Tour in Paramus, NJ.

Tickets for design industry friends are available here.

Dear Designer:

 

You’ve mentioned in the past issues that you rarely paint walls and usually use wallpaper. I’m intrigued but scared! Can you share some baby steps for introducing wallpaper in my home?  

 

Signed,  

Feeling like a Wallflower  

 

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Hi Feeling like a Wallflower,  

 

No need to by shy – join the paper party! So many of our clients cringe when we suggest wallpaper, but after we’ve convinced them of it’s merits, it’s also the thing they tell us they can’t live without and ask us to paper room after room in their homes. The first reaction is probably elicited by memories of Granny’s wallpaper in the 60s and 70s, and it’s only compounded by the “commitment” of wallpaper (but commitments shouldn’t be scary if you’re doing it right!)  

 

You asked for baby steps, so here are our recommendations:  

 

Start with a room that you don’t spend a lot of time in – foyers and hallways, powder rooms and dressing rooms are a great place to begin because they are either rooms you pass through or can be treated like a jewel box.  

 

If you’re risk averse try a texture like a natural fiber or a woven – this adds a ton of depth to a space. It creates dimension in ways that paint just can never achieve. Or try a tonal pattern without much contrast.  

 

Still not sure? Buy one roll of the paper and tack it to your wall so your eyes can adjust to it in your space.  

 

Take the plunge and let us know how it goes! 

 

Your decorating gurus,  

Jessica and Virginia  

Dear Designer:

 

You recently wrote to a reader about art being correctly sized and placed – to be honest, art scares me because of the price tag and the commitment. Can you share any advice about selecting and hanging art? 

 

Signed, 

Blank Space 

 

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Hello Blank Space 

 

Ask any designer and a room isn’t complete without art on the walls.  More often than not it doesn’t matter what the art looks like or what the subject is (nor how much it costs!), but that it’s the right scale and proportion and that it’s hung at the right height. Too often we see too-small pieces hung too high. And it drives us nuts!  

 

So here’s a quick cheat sheet:  

 

- Art should be hung at the average person’s eye level (so, the center should be just around 60” from the floor).  -

- When in doubt, oversize is better. If your art is small, you can group a few pieces together, but the “Gallery Wall” look that has been popular for a few years now has already become dated in the design world. (Although a salon hang will always be great for family photos and is best suited in your home’s private areas - going up the staircase or down a hallway).  

- Art over furniture should take up at least half of the sofa length, if not more. And it should be hung approximately one hand width above the sofa. 

- When hanging art on a blank wall with no furniture grounding it, avoid a landscape orientation, and either choose a square or portrait orientation.  

- Of course, there are exceptions to all of these rules so our best advice is to hang it up, step back and take a photo, and try to look at it objectively.  

 

Selecting art is highly personal but collecting art can be a thrill once you figure out what makes you tick. Are you drawn to photography? Oil paintings? Abstracts? Something with texture and dimension?  

 

We can easily fall down a rabbit hole (in a good way!) looking for art because there are so many options – up and coming artists on Instagram or Etsy, swanky SoHo galleries, estate sales, 1st Dibs and Chairish, your kid’s painted canvas, personal items like the original blueprints to your home Our suggestion is to jump in and start researching the style you like. Once you find an artist or photographer you like, follow them on Instagram and check out the “Suggestions for You” section to find similar work.  

 

Your decorating gurus,

Jessica and Virginia   

Room Transformations - Before and After Photos of some of our Interiors:

If you follow us on Instagram you probably know that every Tuesday we share our #TGtransformations - before and after photos of our interior design projects. We love that House Beautiful caught on to our passion for sharing our room transformations, and covered some of our greatest before and afters on their site. The most dramatic before and afters are of course from gut renovations or projects that involved construction, but it's also pretty clear here that a few cans of paint, some wallpaper and great color and pattern can dramatically transform a space. The room transformations we share also include some behind the scenes info into our design process - like rethinking the traditional furniture layout for a not-so-traditional family, or addressing the storage needs in a home that lacks closet space. And, in case you didn't know, you can also scroll down on most of our portfolio pages to see Before and Afters there, too!

Dear Designer:

 

We are renovating a bathroom, and I see subway tiles being used everywhere these days. I love the look (and the price is great), but I’m concerned that it’s too trendy and I don’t want to date my house. What are your thoughts on this?

 

Sincerely,

En Vogue

 

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Dear En Vogue,

 

There’s a reason that subway tiles are everywhere – they are classic and have withstood the test of time. (Did you ever stop to think about how subway tiles got their name? They were designed for New York’s very first subway stations back in 1904 and were created because they are bright, give them the impression of “clean” and are easy to maintain – concepts that clearly still apply today.)

 

In our opinion, subway tiles are timeless and will always have a place in interiors. However, you’ll probably never see us use them in the standard, white 3” x 6” size and brick-laid pattern. We like to keep it fresh, so we’ll play with the color, size, and pattern.

 

In this bathroom, we switched up all of the elements of the classic subway tile: we chose a grayish blue color with a beveled edge, switched up the size to one that is slightly “off” from the standard size at 3” x 9” and we played with the pattern, installing it on the vertical and with an inlaid herringbone pattern.

There are so many twists and ways to reinvent this classic. A quick Pinterest search can send you down a rabbit hole of modern installations (stacked instead of staggered), fun installations (a colored or contrasting grout), edgy installations (staggered on a diagonal) or pure classic installations (herringbone or brick pattern).

 

The moral of the story is don’t be afraid to use the timeless material in its original orientation or with a fresh perspective. It’s not going anywhere any time soon!

 

Your decorating gurus,

Jessica and Virginia

How to rearrange the furniture you already have to create a completely new interior design layout:

House Beautiful tasked us with rearranging the furniture in a living/dining room and give it a brand new look and feel, and we were up for the design challenge! Our clients already had great pieces of furniture, but the arrangement wasn't working in the open plan living room and dining room combination space, so we "shopped their home" and pulled in a few other pieces of furniture from other rooms in order to complete the look. With some twists and turns of a sofa, a loveseat/banquette we created a more casual dining area, an open seating area that invites you in, and by tweaking some of the finishes in the space the overall feel is much brighter and airier.  Scale of furniture is so important in design. The coffee table that was originally in the room was an appropriate size for a suburban house, but in this condo apartment it was taking up too much space, visually and physically. We also added large scale art over the sofa to bring in some interest on the wall and a pop of color. Forget design on a dime - this was design for free by using what you've got! Click through to watch the full reveal on House Beautiful's website.

House Beautiful Next Wave Designers!:

We couldn't be more thrilled to share that we have been named in this month's issue of House Beautiful as the "Next Wave" interior designers. It's been a long journey here (we posted a little bit about it on our instagram feed) that started as a pipe dream in our first design studio over 8 years ago.  We are so excited to be recognized for our hard work in the renovation and decoration of homes in New York and New Jersey. But, as usual, we are too busy to sit here and relish too-too much in our successes and it's already on to the next design project! We are elbow-deep in designing an adorable Cape Style house in Northern NJ that will have a touch of Scandanavian, albeit timeless and contemporary, design. So, as they say, on to the next one, on to the next one.

Dear Designer:

 

I look at images on Pinterest and I’m always in awe of the window treatments – they always
seem to pull everything together. Any pro tips you can share?

 

Signed,
Hanging In There

 

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Dear Hanging In There,

 

Because window sizes vary so much from house to house and room to room, custom window
treatments are an obvious choice to bring in character to your home since there is never a one-
size-fits-all answer. Most of the images you are pining after are probably custom, in fact. You
can get a great bang for your buck by pairing simple and neutral furnishings with patterned and
colorful fabric shades or drapes to get an overall unique design.

 

The pro tips:

 

Don’t hang drapery right above the window, and never, ever mount the drapery rods on the
crown molding. A well known trick is to hang drapery a bit above the window trim (the higher
the better) which will make your ceilings appear taller than they really are.

 

Make sure that your drapes are wide enough. If you’re purchasing ready made drapes from a
mass retailer, always go for their wider width if they offer two sizes, and if they don’t, stack two
pairs side-by-side to give the illusion of one full curtain. And, speaking of the ready-made route
– we love adding trim details to a simple or solid curtain panel to add a bit of excitement.

 

Make sure your curtains go all the way to the floor, but don’t let them puddle too much. An
ideal length just breaks on the floor, but a couple of inches longer is ok, too. But please don’t
make them too short!

 

Layer up – drapes plus shades (woven, wood blinds, or a fabric roman shade) equals high style.
Our last tip, and maybe most important, is that form always follows function, so if you need
window treatments for privacy, sun protection or blackout (hello, early risers!) tackle that issue
first and then address the “look.”

 

Your decorating gurus,
Jessica and Virginia

Interiors Styling Tip:

The holidays are literally just around the corner which means so is holiday entertaining. One of our design clients called us with a request to get her home ready for family and friends. All of our projects include accessorizing, because an interior design project is just not complete without that final layer, but after 6 years, our client was asking for a little freshening up. We worked with some of our original accessories, peppered in some new dishes, vases and glassware, and incorporated some of her family heirlooms. Custom millwork is a huge part of our interior design work (in fact, scroll through almost any of our projects and you are bound to see built in cabinetry that is custom designed for each client) but staging those open shelves takes so. much. stuff. We have our clients fill out a lengthy interior design questionnaire when they begin working with us so we can learn about some of their hobbies and likes, and fill their homes with a few new things that mean something to them. On a recent lunch date with a client we learned that we share a love of Justin Timberlake so we happily added his new book to her home accessories list (because we love a good coffee table book, and we love a good sense of humor! I ordered one for myself at the same time too, naturally). On installation day we ask our clients to lay out any accessories that we are free to use (old wedding gifts are a popular one!) and we rummage through their cabinets and pull out knick-knacks and tchotchkes that they might not have even thought of using. Once we have all of the objects we clear away any clutter so we can start with a clean slate, and we add, subtract, and add again, until we have a layered, textured and varied end product. Most of our clients keep their shelves exactly the way we left them, even if years have passed since we originally staged them. And those clients get an A++.

Dear Designer:

 

I love our living room – it’s a great size, but it’s really long, so I can’t figure out how to place my furniture! Anywhere I try to put the sofa seems to cut off the room, but I love an open and airy feel. Can you help solve this design dilemma?

 

Sincerely,

Lost in Design Space

 

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Dear Lost in Design Space,

 

We hear you! So often people are challenged with rooms that boast a great deal of square footage but go against the tried and true living room furniture set up of a sofa and chairs.

 

The natural inclination – a sectional sofa – is the quintessential answer to comfortably watching television for the modern family. We love our sectionals! But if the space isn’t right for a sectional, it takes up too much visual space and can cut off a long room because you are forced to look at (and walk around) the back of it.

We recently tackled a similar problem in an 1800s Federal home which had our client scratching her head. We got pen to paper to fulfillher wish list of both comfy family time and easy entertaining.

 

To tackle the length of the room we set out to create two distinct zones – a cozy every-day area to watch TV or hang by the fireplace, and another seating zone set up for entertaining. The key to unifying these areas came by way of a custom tete-a-tete placed in between the two zones. The design of the piece is such that you can sit on either end and be a part of either zone. Bonus? It’s also wide enough to lay on and has been proven to be a great place for a midday snooze.

 

So, in thinking about your long living space, think about the function of the room – how do you want to use it – and incorporate flexible furnishings in the center that can support a zone on either side – a daybed, chaise, or swivel chairs usually do the trick!

 

Your decorating gurus,

Jessica and Virginia

Interior Design for the Generations:

We were asked by our good friends at Aspire Magazine to be part of their Long Island Design Tour and sit on a panel moderated by LuAnn Nigara of the famous Podcast, A Well Designed Business,  representing the Generation X demographic to give our insight as to what that generation needs and wants in kitchen design. The venue, The Breakfast Room in Manhasset, Long Island was gorgeous...and, don't you just love their name? The Breakfast Room, ahhhh. Along with Generation X, the Millennial and Baby Boomer generations were also represented.

We have designed many kitchens in our collective nearly 20 years in design and have designed for many Gen X'ers and baby boomers and recently worked with our first Millennial couple. So, how does kitchen design change for someone based upon their age group? Some of the answers we knew very quickly but we took to one of our favorite Facebook Moms Groups, Hoboken Mommies, and asked their opinion and boy did they deliver.

What we see is that Gen X'ers are in the most busy times of their lives. Typically they have recently bought their biggest home, they are the pinnacles of their careers, their homes are filled with children and pets, college costs await - you get the picture. In their kitchen, they are looking for timeless design are often timid about being daring with color and finishes because this kitchen will be theirs for a very long time, until it's time to downsize. Our Facebook Mommy friends all said they want efficiency which means lots of drawer cabinets outfitted with organizational accessories and refrigerator drawers (for little ones to stockpile their juice boxes and water) and dishwasher drawers to make washing smaller loads a breeze. They don't want too much tech but smart refrigerators that can maintain a grocery list that links to your phone app and smart double ovens reign supreme.

Whatever your age group, we find that your kitchens can truly be customized to work for your current life and what is valuable for you in that chapter of your life. Cheers!

Dear Designer:

 

Every year, I say that this is the year I’m going to get my act together and finish my dining room before the holidays … and here I am again, with Thanksgiving just around the corner and my dining room is still a hot mess. My biggest struggle is that I’m not a formal person, but my dining room has a formal set-up. How can I make the room feel more appropriate for me?

 

Sincerely,

Formally Challenged

 

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Dear Formally Challenged,

 

It’s scary how fast those holidays creep up, isn’t it? Feels like we were just relaxing at the pool, and now here we are, knee deep in homework and sports teams again. We know that the panic of family hosting is real. The fall is always the busiest season in the design world, too, and we’ve been getting those threatening emails from manufacturers pressuring us to get our orders in to meet Thanksgiving and Christmas deadlines since July!

 

We are firm believers that you have to make your home work for you, so if you are not a formal person, just abandon the idea of a formal dining room! We love creating a study/library vibe in dining rooms for kids to do homework and projects at, and if there is enough room, we add a love seat or sofa for relaxing, for evenings when you’re not even using the room for dining.

 

But if that’s not right for you, you can simply consider using color and pattern to make the room feel livelier and more youthful, and more you. This should help create an atmosphere for you to feel yourself. You can also make it more casual by mixing up the seating – think a banquette or bench along one or both sides coupled with head chairs.

 

Trust us, it’s ok to abandon the idea of a crystal chandelier and a matching dining set – that’s just not realistic to most young families’ vibe anymore! In this home, we used a fixture with a traditional candelabra shape but done in dark metal finish for modernity and coupled with globe bulbs instead of a faux candle shape bulb (this designer tip can be applied to give any candelabra light a fresher look).

 

Being your authentic self is a phrase we hear a lot in 2018, and it applies to your home life, too!

 

Your decorating gurus,

Jessica and Virginia

Dear Designer:

 

If you could add one element to a home to change the way people live, what would it be?  

 

Signed,   

Short and Sweet

 

______________________________________________________

 

Hey Short and Sweet!

 

Hands down, banquette style seating is both our most often requested, and suggested, design element. Almost every home has a natural area to build one in, whether it’s a nook in a kitchen corner, or a long stretch along a dining wall. We’ve even made the argument for a built-in banquette Our clients love them because they allow us to be casual and intimate during meals, cocktails, hot cocoa, crafts projects or homework.  

 

The gift of design! You’re tugging on these designer’s heartstrings! We love creating spaces for kids to thrive in, give them a sense of pride about, and to help teach them responsibility for their own belongings. And we love that you’re thinking this way for the holidays – it’s so creative and the impact will be long lasting. Kudos to you!  

 

Last Christmas a client came to us with a similar request – her tween daughters had long since moved on from snuggling with mom and dad in a rocking chair, and now they wanted a place to ‘host’ their girlfriends. A tufted turquoise chenille sofette suited the older girl’s bedroom and style, while a faux-fur daybed was perfect for the little girl. Mom and dad have since gushed to us about the pleasure they see in their daughters’ self-confidence when they “entertain” their friends in their own personal spaces.  

 

Alternatively, the biggest and broadest impact can be made on the walls or ceiling – a jaw dropping wallpaper or mural that expresses your child’s unique style  - an ocean wave for a kid who’s laid back, a dip-dye rainbow for a budding artist, or an animal motif for an aspiring vet.  

 

A special first piece of art – it doesn’t need to be an “investment” piece – is an amazing gift and a special experience for kids to learn about curating their own collection Another client of ours gave their sons framed photography that is meaningful to them – Kurt Cobain’s converse sneakers, a striking view of an empty Yankee stadium and an aerial shot of a rooftop basketball court. When we came to visit the boys beamed with pride as they gave us a tour of their budding collection.  

 

You can also give them a practical gift – a desk, a bulletin board, a new bed – kids value being treated like adults and relish in gifts like these. And what a great gift for you to give and receive!  

 

Your decorating gurus,  

Jessica and Virginia     

How to make your lifestyle and your home design compatible:

We were thrilled to pick up the newest issue of (201) Magazine and once again see our work featured! We've been turning to this project time and time again to urge our clients to take a moment and consider how they truly live, and design their home to work for them. When we met this wonderful Tenafly, NJ couple, their dining table was covered in science projects, art projects and homework. Covered! It was clearly the hub of their home, sandwiched between the front door and the side door, and in close proximity to the stairs and the kitchen, making it a room that gets passed through multiple times a day. It had been sitting unfinished since they moved in years ago because they felt that they couldn't turn it into the formal dining room that it is "supposed" to be when it is a high traffic zone, and a family control center. We pushed them to lose the strict constraints that they were putting on themselves to create a formal space and to embrace their full and hectic lifestyle with a 'tween and a teen. We set out to create a casual but layered room with a large table that can accommodate homework OR dinner and have both feel completely appropriate. Click through to the article in the October issue on page 48 to read more of our tips including a few quick fixes like wallpapering the back of a bookcase, defining areas in open concept floor plan by way of lighting, and selecting the right shape and size tile for a bathroom renovation.

Innovation in Design Awards:

We are absolutely thrilled to announce that we are FINALISTS in the Bath Design category for New York Cottages & Garden's Innovation in Design Awards. The awards are being presented by One Kings Lane on October 24th at The Rainbow Room, and the evening honorees are Mitchell Gold Bob Williams. The bathroom we are nominated for is the black + white jewel box in our Postwar Panache project on the Upper East Side. We are so honored to be among such great company and look forward to celebrating!

Ask the Interior Design Experts:

We're back, and we're answering a design question  from a viewer who found us on You Tube all the way in Israel...we dish out advice on their furniture placement and wall color. If you want to dip your toe into the design world and have a question you want us to answer on Facebook or Instagram Live, or You Tube, reach out to us! We always have a little too much fun with these webisodes!

Edgewater's The Glass House: an Interior Design Showhouse:

Large expanses of glass and super clean lines are what make so many of the new construction river side buildings like The Glass House in Edgewater, NJ desirable. Putting our brand’s luxuriously livable stamp on the modern apartment in under four weeks was the challenge ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine presented us with when they graciously invited us to be a part of their showhouse. Read all about our design process here, and for more images of this showhouse and more, check our Charity Showhouse portfolio page.

Design Project Reveal:

Postwar Panache: Seven years ago we designed and managed the construction process of a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom complete gut renovation on the Upper East Side in New York. We had designed the apartment with the thought in our minds to eventually combine it with the studio apartment next door, and many years later, our clients called us back to seamlessly merge the two.  Our interior design firm handled the entire project from start to finish including all of the construction plans, project management of the general contractor and all the way down the decorating (from furniture to fluffing pillows and filling decanters). Hear all about the inspiration and process here.

Interiors Styling Tip:

The #SHELFIE. You've probably heard this tag line a time or two if you spend any time at all on social media. But what's the buzz all about?! And why the heck are people so concerned with their shelves? Well, because they should be, if you ask us =) The styling of your home is the final layer in bringing a design together. When challenged with rows upon rows of bookshelves as we often are, its easy to become overwhelmed with how to curate the shelves without making them feel overstyled or impersonal. A quick takeaway as a starting point is to corral similar objects together and display them in groups on the shelves. Disparate objects should then be feathered in in between the groupings for balance. Feel free to go crazy with new decorative objects, but don't forget to incorporate momentos or keepsakes so that your #shelfie is just as personal as your #selfie!

 

Interiors Styling Tip:

Be BOLD. We love when a front door speaks to the people who inhabit the home. What do you think this fierce lion's head knocker says about the family who lives here?

Interiors Styling Tip:

Where do you start? That's probably the most common question we hear from clients when we approach a room design. The short, simple answer is with the floor. Yes, we spend plenty of time understanding the function, architecture and mood of the room before we even consider looking at finishes, but when we're ready to do so, we start with the floor plane. All the research we did beforehand will inform our decision as to whether or not this room will have bare floors, wall to wall carpeting or the perfect rug. From there we scour our options and have those options be the driving force for all of the other things we choose in the room. A faded antique rug may influence us to choose a pillow with beautiful fringe and a plaster fixture with a gold finial, while a bare white oak matte finish floor might have us pulling simple, sculptural accessories and Milo Baughman chairs. So when you don't know where to start, look down!

Ask the Interior Design Experts:

Sit down with us while we dissect some write-in reader decoration dilemmas, from when it's ok to paint crown moldings, base moldings, and window trim in different colors, to some space planning, window treatments and bedding help for a master bedroom overhaul. And while you're here, please subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don't miss any more of our Ask the Experts series!

Pantone's Color of the Year: Ultraviolet:

Why we often use purple (or several shades of it) for tween and almost-tween girls. Read all about our use of Ultraviolet, Pantone's color of the year for 2018 in (201) Family. Scroll to page 14.

Interiors Styling Tip:

Designer showhouses are where interior designers get to shine. We take risks (jungled themed trellis wallpaper, anyone?), push limits (hand painted faux bois ceiling), and hope to inspire our visitors. Read about our NJ Designer Showhouse in Saddler River in (201) Magazine on page A26. #gobigorgohome

Design on a Dime:

This was our 4th year participating in Housing Work's annual Design on a Dime event, where top interior designers are challenged with creating a shop-able vignette entirely from donations, and all proceeds helping those affected by HIV and AIDS. It's a mad-dash to the finish line, for both installation (we get 1.5 days and when the bell rings we have to drop our tools!) and for shoppers (every year our art is snatched off the walls within minutes!). See photos from the event here.

Interiors Styling Tip:

The energy and excitement before the holidays is pure JOY. We love helping our clients prepare to welcome family and loved ones for the season and where better to do so than on your front door? Wreaths can be untraditional (and nondenominational) and we love having fun with holiday decor!